SIFF Face the Music 2019 Preview: Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool

Zach Frimmel

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool
(USA | 2019 | 115 minutes | d: Stanley Nelson)

Festival Screenings:

*WEDNESDAY, MAY 29 6:30 PM | SIFF Cinema Egyptian
FRIDAY, MAY 31 4:00 PM | SIFF Cinema Uptown

* While supplies last, tickets are available at the KEXP Front Desk for this screening. (Limited 2 per person.) 

In Miles Davis’s smoker-gruff voice, he narrates one of the film’s most trenchant lines, “Living is an adventure and a challenge... I’ve always been the way I am. Been like this all my life. If anyone wants to keep creating they have to always be about change.” And change he incited and did. Known for his documentary films about African-American revolutionaries like The Black Panthers: Vanguard of the Revolution, producer and director Stanley Nelson captures the country-born-to-city-boy, illustrious trumpeter as a insubordinate genius, a chiseled shape-shifter, and a passionate cocktail of blues. We hear about his prestige and pitfalls through the grapevine of intimate interviews from family members, collaborators like Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock, music icons like Quincy Jones, and record label moguls he worked with throughout his career.  

Miles Davis: Birth of the Cool – named after Davis’s genre-defining, 1957 album – underscores how jazz radicalized the zeitgeist of the mid-twentieth century, but Miles Davis radicalized past, present, and future generations about how to be hip, how to talk, how to have swag, how to personify mystique, and how to romantically improvise as a form of freedom and transcendence. With grit and gumption, Miles Davis embosomed his blackness to invent himself in Jim Crow America and continued to expressively reinvent his sound and self each decade with no shortage of jaw drops from collaborators and critics. However, like so many indelible figures and stories of success, heartbreak, failure, and shortcomings were all agents of change for the “Prince of Darkness.”

KEXP is a proud co-sponsor of the "Face the Music" series at the 2019 Seattle International Film Festival, running May 16 - June 9 in various theatres across the area. Follow along with all our coverage throughout the festival here.

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